Sunday, 21 May 2017 : Sixth Sunday of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, the sixth in the season of Easter, all of us gathered together in the celebration of the Holy Mass are all called to remember that the Lord has given us His very own Holy Spirit to dwell in us, as the Helper and Advocate which He had promised us all through what He had said to His disciples, as we heard it ourselves in the Gospel passage today.

As we approach the end of the season of Easter, fifty days of celebration of the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, culminating at the Solemnity of the Pentecost, we are preparing ourselves to commemorate that momentous event in the entire history of the Church, the day when the Lord sent the Holy Spirit to all of His Apostles and disciples, giving them the power and courage to go forth and proclaim His Good News to all the nations, essentially marking the beginning of the Church.

The Holy Spirit has descended upon the face of the earth, and by their imparting upon the Apostles and the disciples, the Holy Spirit Himself has been given to all the faithful upon whom the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord had laid their hands on, passing down the same gifts that the Lord had given them to their successors, and from their successors to their successors’ successors, and eventually unto us.

And because the Lord Himself has dwelled in us, first of all, by the life that God the Father has given us, and by the Most Precious Body and Blood which God the Son has given us to eat and drink, and by the coming of God the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, all of us have been sealed, by the Sacrament of Initiation, through Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist, in the Name of the Lord’s Most Holy Trinity, and God Himself is in us, and He lives inside each one of us.

And if God is inside us, living in us, and really present in each one of us, then surely we cannot defile our bodies, our minds, our hearts and our souls. As St. Paul mentioned in his Epistle to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth, we are all Temples of the Holy Spirit, that is our entire being, our entire body, mind, heart and soul. We are God’s dwelling and holy tabernacles on earth.

If we do our best to give the best things for the church, by bowing, kneeling, adoring and falling flat before God, and since we believe in the Real Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist, using only the finest materials of gold and precious metals for chalices and ciboriums, and the finest tabernacles and monstrances to contain the Most Precious Body and Blood of the Lord, then should we not do the same with our own bodies, with our own minds, hearts and souls?

Otherwise, our faith is not truly complete, if we do not do what we are supposed to do, in maintaining purity and holiness in life. The Lord had entered our bodies, sinful and tainted by those wickedness we have done, and yet, He had done so in order to purify us, to make us clean and worthy. Such was His love for us that He has given us innumerable opportunities for us to be redeemed from our sins, and to be reconciled with Him.

If we continue to live in sin, or reverting back to our past sinfulness and wickedness, even after we have been made to be children of God, by the Sacraments of Initiation mentioned earlier, then truly we have sinned against the Lord and the Holy Spirit, an unforgivable sin, if we persist in our way of sin and refuse to repent from those sins.

That said, all of these simply point us all in one simple direction, yet clear. And that is all of us Christians must ‘walk the talk’, and we must be genuine and sincere in our faith and in what we believe in the Lord. We must follow in the footsteps of the Apostles, as we have heard from the Acts of the Apostles, which is our first reading today. They were the ones whom God had given the authority and power, and they had dutifully done what they were supposed to do, travelling from places to places, healing the sick and reaching out to sinners and to those who had no hope with them.

We cannot be lukewarm Christians, all those who claim themselves to be Christians and yet they carry on with life as if nothing concerns them besides all of their worldly pursuits and goals, those who are Christians in name only, but in their behaviours and attitudes, often show actions contrary to their supposed belief in the Lord. They did not follow the way of the Lord, but their own, often selfish ways.

Such Christians will bring about scandal to the Church, to the faith, and to the Holy Name of our Lord, because people then can slander us by saying, ‘I thought that Christians believe in their God, and yet this is how they have acted in life?’ Others will then think of Christians as hypocrites, all those who talk but show no action, or those who preach one thing, and yet act in a totally contradictory manner.

No, brothers and sisters in Christ. We cannot be like this. We have to be true disciples of the Lord in all things. We have to practice what we believe in, or we will be hypocrites like those Pharisees whom Jesus our Lord criticised and rebuked, because they acted high and mighty, assuming great piety and devotion to God, but they did not do as they have preached, and sought human praise as well as worldly ambition above all else.

It is time for us all Christians to reflect on our actions thus far, we all whom God had chosen from the world to be His disciples, to be those on whom He had bestowed the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the same gifts that He had granted these holy and devout people, and yet we can see just how those gifts God gave them had flourished and grew to be such great fruits of the faith. Thousands and more people, countless souls had been saved through their hard work, which they showed not just by mere words alone, but through their genuine Christian living.

What does this mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that if we have not done so, and if we have not lived an honest and upright Christian life thus far, and if we have become like those lukewarm or even ‘cafetaria’ Christians, those who choose what they want to believe based on what suits them and reject those that they do not agree with, then it is time for us to change our way of life.

It is time for us to repent and to seek God’s forgiveness, and from now on, devoting our whole lives in the service of God. We have to be loving just as our God is loving. That is what Jesus our Lord mentioned in the Gospel today. All those who believe in Him will do His commandments, and obey the will of God wholeheartedly. And Jesus Himself had summarised the whole law He had given them into two rules.

First, all of us have to love God with all of our heart, with all of our strength. We cannot love anything in a way that is greater than how we love God. He is our Creator, our Lord and Master, the One to Whom we owe our existence and our life. He alone is worthy of our greatest love and praise. And then, secondly, our faith life cannot be kept to ourselves, but we must be active, that is we have to love and serve our fellow brethren, our brothers and sisters, fellow mankind who are all children of the same God.

Love is at the heart of our Christian faith, for St. Paul also mentioned in another occasion, as the Lord Jesus also mentioned, that no matter how great the faith that someone has, but without love, that faith will amount to nothing in the end. And no matter how great we are, in deeds and abilities, but if we have no love in us, that our lack of love will be held against us on the day of judgment, and all that we have, our talents and abilities will do us no good.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all remember that even though the season of Easter is coming to an end soon, there must be no end to our effort to love the Lord and our brethren, as best as we are able to. That is our obligation as Christians, following in the footsteps of the holy Apostles, saints and martyrs, many of whom have even laid down their lives for the sake of the Lord, and for protecting the life of the innocents.

Let us all be ever more courageous in faith, and be ever more devoted to the Lord, so that in all the things we say and do, we will always declare and proclaim to all peoples, the glory of the Lord our God, His truth and His love for all of us mankind. May through us and our good works, we may be able to bring countless more souls towards their salvation in God. Let the fruits of the Holy Spirit, of faith, hope and love grow in us and blossom well through us. May He bless us all and our endeavours, and make us all true Christians in name and in deeds. Amen.

Sunday, 21 May 2017 : Sixth Sunday of Easter (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
John 14 : 15-21

Jesus said to His disciples, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments; and I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper to be with you forever, that Spirit of truth Whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He is with you and will be in you.”

“I will not leave you orphans, I am coming to you. A little while and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me, because I live and you will also live. On that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. Whoever keeps My commandments is the one who loves Me. If he loves Me, he will also be loved by My Father; I too shall love him and show Myself clearly to him.”

Sunday, 21 May 2017 : Sixth Sunday of Easter (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
1 Peter 3 : 15-18

But bless the Lord Christ in your hearts. Always have an answer ready when you are called upon to account for your hope, but give it simply and with respect. Keep your conscience clear so that those who slander you may be put to shame by your upright, Christian living. Better to suffer for doing good, if it is God’s will, than for doing wrong.

Remember how Christ died, once and for all, for our sins. He, the Just One, died for the unjust in order to lead us to God. In the Body He was put to death, in the Spirit He was raised to life.

Sunday, 21 May 2017 : Sixth Sunday of Easter (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White
Psalm 65 : 1-3a, 4-5, 6-7a, 16 and 20

Shout with joy to God, all you on earth; sing to the glory to His Name; proclaim His glorious praise. Say to God, “How great are Your deeds!”

All the earth bows down to You, making music in praise of You, singing in honour of Your Name. Come and see God’s wonders, His deeds awesome for humans.

He has turned the sea into dry land, and the river was crossed on foot. Let us, therefore, rejoice in Him. He rules by His might forever.

All you who fear God, come and listen; let me tell you what He has done. May God be blessed! He has not rejected my prayer; nor withheld His love from me.

Sunday, 21 May 2017 : Sixth Sunday of Easter (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White
Acts 8 : 5-8, 14-17

Philip went down to a town of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. All the people paid close attention to what Philip said as they listened to him and saw the miraculous signs that he did. For in cases of possession, the unclean spirits came out shrieking loudly. Many people who were paralysed or crippled were healed. So there was a great joy in that town.

Now, when the Apostles in Jerusalem heard that the Samaritans had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. They went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for He had not as yet come down upon any of them since they had only been baptised in the Name of the Lord Jesus. So Peter and John laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.